OTTERS REPORT: Logjam up front headlines final weeks of preseason

   September 3, 2014 1:00 am

 

Erie OttersNow it becomes a numbers game for Erie Otters prospects on the bubble, especially up front.
The Otters normally take a 23-player roster into the regular season. So let’s assume the same for this season…
Devin Williams and Daniel Dekoning are in net (unless club officials like him enough that they overlook that he’s 16 years old and that goaltenders often need a year or two to develop.
If head coach Kris Knoblauch returns to a 6-player rotation on defense, the Otters would be set with veterans Travis Dermott, Cory Genovese and Darren Raddysh and rookies T.J. Fergus, Cole Mayo (pictured at right) and Jesse Saban. Knoblauch could use a 7-player rotation (which he did last season after the club acquired Kurtis MacDermid a the deadline). But the remaining defense prospects are a pair of 2014 picks – Mitchell Byrne and Taylor Egan – and 17-year-old free agent Michael Joyaux.
I’ve been especially impressed with Byrne, so he would be my pick as the 7th D. But he would benefit more from a year in Tier II.

That takes us to the logjam at forward…

The Otters have seven veterans up front, led by projected 2015 NHL first-round picks Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome. Free agent Alex DeBrincat already has proven he has the ability and toughness to play on the top two lines. Taylor Raddysh has the size, physical style and OHL-ready shot to be a power forward in the making. Add rookies Shaun Shaun Bily  (EliteProspects.com)Bily (pictured at left) and FA Mason Marchment into the mix. (Why sign a free agent if they’re not going to keep him)

That leaves six forwards vying for what should be the final spots of what could be a 15-player rotation – which would include 2 players, Patrick Murphy and Travis Wood (when healthy) who could also play D…

* Patrick Fellows – He’s been steady, and that’s what the Otters want from young players. He’s in, but could be the odd man out if the Otters go with 14 forwards.
* Trent Fox - He’s not his brother, Dane Fox, but I liked what I saw from Trent on a checking line alongside veterans Nick Betz and Quentin Maksimovich. He’s in.
* Riley Macrae - He’s shown enough to stay this long but…this unsigned winger should be one of the first cuts this week.
* Kyle Maksimovich – His skills are ready for the OHL. His size isn’t. He could be 1 of 2 players assigned to Tier II that could still play in the rest of the preseason.
* Frank Pucci – See Maksimovich…except for one thing, he’s a year older so he’s better prepared to handle the physical and mental grind of the OHL. He’s in.
* Jack Scanlan - He’s a level-headed kid who works hard but. If he was in the mix for this year, I would the Otters would have signed him by now.

– Victor Fernandes

 

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